Archive for 2011

The Weekly Wonk – April 22, 2011

by | April 22nd, 2011 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week OK Policy reported on SB 517, a bill that would sunset 20 tax credits, including one relied on by 1 million low- and medium-income Oklahomans.  If Oklahoma eliminates this credit, it would put us in the company of just Mississippi and Alabama as the only states that provide no relief for grocery taxes.  The Tulsa world reported on OK Policy’s ideas for improving the tax code and adequately funding public structures.

We released the April edition of Numbers You Need this week, our monthly bulletin of key economic and budget trends, which shows a slow and steady economic recovery for Oklahoma.  For a closer look at two key indicators of economic improvement, read Tuesday’s blog post, Quick Take on the Economy: Income picks up steam, unemployment edges downward.

Despite the economic recovery and improving revenue collections, the state still faces a huge shortfall for next year.  Yesterday’s blog post explains the “5 percent option” and suggests why we think a portion of this money should be used to make up the shortfall.

On April 29, Oklahoma Assets hosts a Webinar on financial education in public schools.  Yesterday, OK Policy represented Oklahoma Assets at Jump$tart Your Money Day at the State Capitol.

Numbers of the Week

  • 6.5 percent – Oklahoma’s unemployment rate, February 2011
  • 103 – Drug-free infants born to drug-court participants in Oklahoma, FY07-FY09
  • $7,411,299,000 – Annual payroll and receipts of Oklahoma firms with less than 20 employees, 2007
  • 9 – Number of states where 30 percent or more of the population is obese, 2009; Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
  • $118 million – Potential revenue generated by eliminating the itemized deduction for state tax payments on Oklahoma returns.

Click here for source citations and archived numbers of the day.

In the Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blog posts.  You can sign up here to receive In the Know in your inbox each weekday morning and the Weekly Wonk each Friday afternoon.

State seeing some job growth, but still a long ways to go

by | August 12th, 2010 | Posted in Blog, Economy | Comments (0)

This week, OK Policy put out the latest edition of Numbers You Need, our monthly bulletin of key economic and budget indicators for the state. Our main headline was of an economic recovery stuck in neutral. While there are certain encouraging signs of the state emerging from out of the Great Recession, the downturn is continuing to hit segments of the population hard. High levels of distress can be seen, for example, in record numbers of home foreclosures and continued growth in food stamp and Medicaid caseloads. But it is the persistence of high rates of unemployment and slow job growth that provide the strongest and most worrisome indicator of the distances still needed to be traveled to a solid, broad-based recovery.

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate hit 6.8 percent in June, rising one-tenth of one percent for the second straight month and falling just short of the highest rate registered during this recession (6.9 percent from August to October 2009). Oklahoma’s unemployment in June remained well below the national rate of 9.5 percent and was 8th lowest among the states.  However, over the past six months, the national unemployment rate has dropped 0.5 percentage points, while Oklahoma’s rate has remained unchanged.

continue reading State seeing some job growth, but still a long ways to go

By the numbers: State personal income recovering far more quickly than state revenues

by | July 14th, 2010 | Posted in Blog, Economy | Comments (0)

The latest edition of our monthly Numbers You Need bulletin reports on the most recent state personal income data that was put out last month by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the 1st quarter of 2010, state personal income grew by a healthy 0.9 percent in both Oklahoma and the nation, showing the strongest rate of growth since the 2nd quarter of 2008. Personal income grew in all but two states (North Dakota and South Dakota), with Mississippi leading the way (+1.6 percent). Oklahoma’s growth for the quarter ranked 28th among the states.

As can be seen in this chart, state personal income remains slightly below pre-downturn levels. Oklahoma’s  state personal income of $131.2 billion in the 1st quarter was 99.2 percent of the amount in the 3rd quarter of 2008 (amounts are seasonally adjusted at annual rates).  While state personal income for the nation as a whole declined more sharply than in Oklahoma during the worst of the recession, it, too, has recovered to just over 99 percent of pre-downturn levels.

continue reading By the numbers: State personal income recovering far more quickly than state revenues

The public safety net at work

by | June 17th, 2010 | Posted in Blog, Poverty | Comments (1)

Today we released the 19th issue of our monthly Numbers You Need bulletin, which tracks monthly and quarterly data for key economic indicators. As in many recent months, the overall economic news was mixed: a slight increase in employment and rebound in state revenues, offset by continued high numbers of bankruptcy filings. But while we have seen  fluctuations in many indicators of the state’s economic well-being over the course of the economic downturn,  one constant has been an increasing number of Oklahomans turning to public programs for assistance with food and medical care. In March, participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps) rose for the 24th consecutive month (it has since risen again in April and May). Meanwhile, enrollment rose for the 15th straight month in March in SoonerCare (Medicaid), the federal-state health insurance program for low-income individuals in various categories.

This chart (which is based on DHS monthly statistical bulletins available here) shows monthly participation for both programs going back to January 2008:

continue reading The public safety net at work

Saved by the net: Food assistance programs help mitigate recession’s impact

by | November 20th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Poverty | Comments (1)

This week we released the November issue of Numbers You Need (PDF), our monthly look at key data on the state’s economy  and budget. As we reported in the bulletin, one of the clearest signs of the depth and length of the economic downturn is that participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, rose for the seventeenth consecutive month in August. The program provided benefits to 524,536 people in August, an all-time high, and an increase of 27.3 percent compared to March 2008.

continue reading Saved by the net: Food assistance programs help mitigate recession’s impact

Nearing exhaustion: As recession drags on, long-term unemployed risk losing benefits

by | October 15th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Economy | Comments (0)

Our October edition of Numbers You Need is now out, providing a snapshot of economic and budget trends in Oklahoma through monthly data on jobs, inflation, public benefits, and state revenues, as well as the most recent quarterly data on building permits and an annual update on the poverty rate.

continue reading Nearing exhaustion: As recession drags on, long-term unemployed risk losing benefits

Stagnant enrollment and other numbers you need

by | September 21st, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Numbers You Need | Comments (0)

Last week we released the September edition of Numbers You Need, our monthly recap of statistics that shape Oklahoma. In addition to bad news for the short run–a higher unemployment rate, more people on public support programs, and the eighth straight month of declining state revenues–there’s bad news for the long run. Enrollment in Oklahoma colleges and universities has been essentially flat over the last five years.

continue reading Stagnant enrollment and other numbers you need

Numbers you can't make sense of–the falling welfare caseload

by | June 24th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Poverty | Comments (2)

If you look closely at our most recent Numbers You Need summary of Oklahoma economic and fiscal indicators, you’ll find a puzzle. On one hand, economic hardship is evident.

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate continued its rapid ascent in April, climbing to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 6.2 percent. This is its highest level since July 2003…The number of Oklahomans receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps) rose for the twelfth consecutive month in March, reaching an all-time high of 450,057 persons. Similarly, enrollment in the SoonerCare health insurance program increased by 1.2 percent in March and was up by 4.5 percent compared to one year prior.

Contrary to what you’d expect, though, the bad news is not reflected in use of the most basic piece of the safety net. Participation in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a federal block grant that helps fund job training, work supports, and, in some instances, short-term cash payments for low-income single parents, is virtually unchanged. There were only 230 (1.2 percent) more people receiving TANF cash assistance in March than a year ago. How can this be when the economy is shedding jobs and every other measure shows tens of thousands of people in need?

We have remarked before on  participation in the cash assistance portion of TANF and noted that we help a considerably smaller segment of the poor population than most other states. We want to know why, in the face of obvious need, we aren’t helping more of our fellow Oklahomans.

continue reading Numbers you can't make sense of–the falling welfare caseload

Child abuse and neglect numbers moving in the right direction

by | June 15th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Children and Families | Comments (0)

We’re out with our latest Numbers You Need bulletin for June, tracking economic and fiscal trends in Oklahoma and the nation. While the bulletin focuses on monthly and quarterly data on jobs, inflation, work support programs, and the like, each month we present annual data on some indicator of Oklahoma’s general prosperity and well-being. This month we look at the trend in the annual number of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect in the state. The news is decidedly encouraging.abuseneglect

Last year’s total of 11,714 confirmed cases of abuse and neglect is the lowest this decade. The rate of child abuse and neglect cases – 13.0 per 1,000 children in the population -  is the lowest since FY ’94 and is down 35 percent from the peak rate of 20.0 confirmed cases of abuse and neglect per 1,000 children in FY ’98.

continue reading Child abuse and neglect numbers moving in the right direction

Busted

by | May 20th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Economy | Comments (0)
Source: www.uscourts.gov

Source: www.uscourts.gov

The May edition of Numbers You Need, our monthly update of key Oklahoma economic and budget trends,  includes some recent data on bankruptcy filings in Oklahoma that provides another indicator of the spread of economic hardship in the state. For the fourth quarter of 2008, a total of 2,956 bankruptcies were filed in Oklahoma. This was an increase of 34.2 percent over the same quarter in 2007. For the year, there were 11,214 bankruptcy filings in Oklahoma, a 23.0 percent increase from 2007, which saw 9,122 filings. Nationally, bankruptcy filings rose at a higher rate than in Oklahoma – 31.4 percent in 2008 compared to 2007 – likely reflecting the recession hitting Oklahoma later. National rankings for 2008 are not yet available, but in 2007, Oklahoma ranked 22nd highest among the states, with a bankruptcy rate of 2.44 per 1,000 population.

The data also allow us to separate out business and non-business filings and chapters of the bankruptcy code.  Personal bankruptcies accounted for 95.9 percent of the filings in Oklahoma in 2008, which was a share very similar to the national average of 96.3 percent. Four out of every five filings (79.7 percent) in Oklahoma were filed under Chapter 7, under which a debtor liquidates non-exempt property in exchange for being discharged of some of their debt. One in five (19.8 percent) bankruptcies were filed under Chapter 13, under which debtors are allowed to retain ownership and possession of their assets, but must devote some portion of their future income to repaying creditors, generally over a period of three to five year.  A tiny number of bankruptcies – just 0.5 percent – were filed under Chapters 11 or 12 of the bankruptcy code.

continue reading Busted